Xiaorong Gu

Lecturer in Childhood

School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Xiaorong Gu ORCID
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Xiaorong is currently a Lecturer in Childhood Studies at the University of Suffolk. Prior to this, she held several research positions with Asia Research Institute (National University of Singapore, NUS) and on the ‘Doing Intimacy’ Project at SOAS, University of London, after obtaining a PhD in sociology at NUS in 2017.

As a sociologist of children and youths, she writes extensively about their migration and mobilities, education, socio-emotions, relations and their social positioning vis-à-vis family, educational institutions, and the nation-state. Her area focus is on contemporary China, from a comparative-Asia perspective. 

She guest-edited the special issue on The Value of Children and Social Transformations in Asia with Child Indicators Research (2021) and the special monograph on The Value of Children in The Global South: A Critical Engagement with Current Sociology (2022). She is also a co-editor of the forthcoming Emerald Handbook of Childhood and Youth in Asian Societies (2023). Her research article— ‘“Save the children!”: Governing Left-behind Children through Family in China’s Great Migration’—was shortlisted for the Annual SAGE Current Sociology Best Paper Prize in 2022. She was featured as Sociologist of the Month in April 2023 by International Sociological Association.

Childhood and Youth Studies
Sociology of Family
Sociology of Education
Migration and Mobilities
Social Stratification
contemporary China
Comparative Asian Studies
Mixed and Multiple Methods research


Selected publications (see ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5479-9669 for full listing)

Journal Articles (peer-reviewed)

Jones, G.W. & Gu, X. R. (2023). Men’s Marriage Trends in Asia: Changes and Continuities, Journal of Family Issues. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X231155656

Gu, X.R. (2022). The Case for a Value Turn in Childhood Sociology. Current Sociology, 70(4), 478–495.

Gu, X.R. (2022). “Save the children!”: Governing Left-behind Children through Family in China’s Great Migration. Current Sociology, 70(4), 513–538 (Shortlisted for the 2022 Best Paper Prize in Current Sociology)

Gu, X.R.(2022). Afterword: The Value of Children in the Global South: Current Contributions and Future Directions. Current Sociology,70(4), 634-643.

Chen, C., Xiao, R. Q., Gu, X.R., & Wu, L.W. (2022). Left-behind children in children's geography: Literature review and new agendas. Tropical Geography, 42(3), 373-384. (in Chinese) (Rated Top 1% Paper according to Citation Standardized Index in 2021-22 by China National Knowledge Infrastructure)

Gu, X.R. (2022). Sacrifice and Indebtedness: The Intergenerational Contract in Chinese Rural Migrant Families. Journal of Family Issues,43(2), 509-533.

Gu, X.R. & Yeung, W. J. (2021). Why Chinese Adolescent Girls Outperform Boys in Achievement Tests. Chinese Journal of Sociology, 7(2):109-137.

Gu, X.R. (2021). Editor’s Introduction: The Value of Children and Social Transformations in Asia. Child Indicators Research,14(2): 477–486. 

Tran T. M. T., Gu X. R. & Nguyen H. D. (2021). Complex Modernization: The Value of Children and Social Transformation in Contemporary Vietnam. Child Indicators Research, 14(2), 511–536. 

Gu, X.R. (2021). Parenting for Success: The Value of Children and Intensive Parenting in Post-reform China. Child Indicators Research, 14(2), 555–581.

Gu, X.R. (2021). ‘You’re Not Young Anymore!’: Gender, Age and the Politics of  Reproduction in Post-reform China. Asian Bioethics Review, 13, 57–76.

Gu, X.R. & Yeung, W.J. (2020) Hopes and Hurdles: Rural Migrant Children’s Education in Urban China. Chinese Sociological Review, 52(2),199-237.

Gu, X.R. (2020). Chapter 9: An intersectional approach to the ‘mobility trap’ that plagues migrant youth in China. In S. Swartz, A. Cooper, R. M. Camarena & C. Batan (eds), Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies. Oxford University Press. 

Gu, X.R. (2018). Four Decades of Transition to First Marriage in China: Economic Reform and Persisting Marriage Norms. International Journal of Population Studies, 4(1), 24-38.

Yeung, W. J. & GU, X.R. (2016). Left Behind by Parents in China: Internal Migration and Adolescents’ Well-being. Marriage and Family Review, 52(1-2):127-161.


Edited Special Issues and Book Volumes

Bühler-Niederberger, D., Gu, X.R., Schwittek, J. & Kim, E. (co-editors) (2023). The Emerald Handbook of Childhood and Youth in Asian Societies. Emerald. 

Gu, X.R. (2022). The Value of Children in The Global South: A Critical Engagement, Special Monograph of Current Sociology, 70(4).

Gu, X.R. (2021). The Value of Children and Social Transformations in Asia. Special issue of Child Indicators Research, 14(2).


Academic Conference/Seminar Organization

Asian Graduate Student Fellowships committee, Asian Studies Workshops,  Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 2020-2021

Co-organizer of the Conference on The Value of Children in Asia: Economy, Family and Public Policies, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, November 2018. 

Steering committee of the International Sociological Association RC06 & RC41 

Joint Conference, Singapore, May 2018. 

Organizer of the Sociology Department Graduate Research Seminar Series,  National University of Singapore, 2015-2016

Xiaorong is also a contributor to popular media in Chinese and English languages targeting at specialist and general readerships on China affairs, including South China Morning Post, Six Tone, The Intellectual, Ms. Muse, The China Story Blog of the Australian National University.

Xiaorong is involved in several international projects in different capacities, including

1) Belt and Road Initiative and Student-Mobilities in China-Southeast Asia (co-PIs: Ho Kong Chong and Brenda Yeoh, National University of Singapore),

2) Doing Intimacy: A Multi-sited Ethnography of Modern Chinese Family Life (PI: Jieyu Liu, SOAS University of London)

3) Everyday Life and Local Negotiations of Guangdong Left-behind Children in the Era of Rural-urban Integration (PI: Chen Chun, South China Normal University) and

4) The Emerald Handbook of Childhood and Youth in Asian Societies with collaborators across Europe and Asia (co-editors: Doris Bühler-Niederberger, Jessica Schwittek and Elena Kim, based in Germany and US).

International Sociological Association

American Sociological Association

Association for Asian Studies

International Chinese Sociological Association

Child Development in Context